Visitors arriving from England via the M6 are greeted by glimpses of the stunning Solway Coast leading up through dramatic moorland hills. The iconic first stop, long famous for runaway young couples, the Gretna Green Famous Blacksmith Shop is today one of Scotland’s most visited attractions, with wedding venues, restaurants, shopping and hotels.  

Over 100 years ago there was a factory like no other just a few miles down the road – the world’s largest ammunitions factory, today celebrated at the award-winning Devil’s Porridge Museum highlighting its workers and the impact of the world wars on the local area.  

A long-distance walk, the Annandale Way, offers the ultimate slow travel approach to seeing the area and the landscape change. Try walking it from its southern most point on the mouth of river Annan on the Solway Coast and see a breathtaking change in scenery as you get into the Southern Upland Hills. Finish it off with a stunning circumnavigation of the dramatic Devil’s Beeftub which surrounds the town of Moffat. Look up and you may be lucky enough to spot one of the golden eagles, which have been reintroduced in recent years. This mecca for hillwalkers has its own walking festival each autumn with walks taking in much of the local scenery including the Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve. 

Here too you can discover heavenly dark skies in Europe’s first dark sky town, where lighting has been deliberately focused down to allow for the best possible viewing of the celestial bodies above. There is even a community observatory to ensure a fantastic view. 

And it would hardly be Scotland if there weren’t a wee dram about – discover the ‘reborn’ Annandale Distillery or the newly created Moffat Distillery.